A maintenance man who has fixed it for life to be a little more special for residents at the Port Talbot care home where he works has struck gold in major national awards.

Apart from his regular round of looking after the 60 residential rooms plus communal areas and tending the extensive grounds at POBL’s Llys y Seren home, 59-year-old Clive Sparrow has taken special courses in dementia care and even started up woodworking and gardening clubs for residents.

It is this dedication and commitment to his role that saw Clive, who lives in Bryn, near Port Talbot, take gold in prestigious national competition, the 2018 Wales Care Awards.

This was the 15th anniversary of the awards and the glittering presentation ceremony was held at City Hall in Cardiff.

The awards, whose headline sponsor was Onyx Healtcare, are in association with Care Forum Wales, a not-for-profit organisation which is celebrating its own 25th anniversary this year after being set up in 1993 to give independent care providers a single professional voice with which to speak on one of the most important issues of our time – how to provide better quality care for those who need it most.

Clive’s gold came in the Commitment to Quality in Housekeeping and Hospitality Award.

Originally from Abercregan in the Afan Valley, his first job after leaving school was as a milk roundsman at the age of 17.

He then worked in an electrical components factory until 1983 when he decided to set up his own business doing a similar line of work.

A few years later he decided to change the focus of his career and looked towards becoming a handyman in the care sector.

Thirteen years ago Clive started work at two local authority care homes, in Cwmavon and Morfa Afan, while still running his factory, which he continues to do today. This meant that he was working many hours a week between the two jobs.

In 2014 the two homes merged to become Llys y Seren and Clive became facilities assistant there.

His managers say he creates a “warm, friendly and homely atmosphere” for the 60 residents, many of who have dementia, and who supported his nomination for the Wales Care Awards.

His senior colleagues speak of him in glowing terms and say he considers no job too large to take on.

Clive recently took part in a dementia workshop run by the community psychiatric nurse and, on his own initiative, has set up woodwork and gardening clubs for the residents. Produce from the home has many top prizes at local gardening competitions.

Clive, who has been married to his wife Diane for 35 years and two children and two young grandsons, said: “I love my job and the freedom it gives me to help keep things looking nice and running properly.

“Gardening is my absolute passion, which is why I set up the club at the home. I’ve also just started what we call a ‘men’s can’ club which is more for the men than the ladies who tend to be in the majority in the gardening club. I like to go with them on trips out and not long ago we enjoyed a great day at a Welsh international rugby match.

“I find it so rewarding working with people who have dementia. While it can be sometimes be either funny, heartbreaking or sad the aim is to treat them as you would like to be treated yourself.”

He added: “I was absolutely overwhelmed to win the gold award. I couldn’t believe that little old me could win the top honour is something where the competition was as high as this.

“I had a fantastic night at the awards ceremony. The setting at Cardiff City Hall was sumptuous and the room was full of people from right across the care sector, so it was fantastic to be able to chat to them and share stories.

“The evening was a celebration of all the good work that goes on in our sector.”

Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists have receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.

“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights in the months and years to come.

“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.

“We take our hats off to them.”